May 19, 2007

We've forgotten, they haven't.....

From Belmont Club:

Will IEDs Come To the West?
One of the first western journalists to interview Osama Bin Laden thinks IEDs will be deployed and used in Western cities regardless of whether the U.S. stays or withdraws from the war. There is no obvious physical or logistical reason why this can't can't true. Although it doesn't have the apocalyptic mystique of a nuclear weapons attack scenario, the use of IEDs in the West causing hundreds of casualties raise the same strategic questions. If the attacks are unattributed against whom shall we retaliate? If the attacks are attributed, shall we go after them? If we choose to appease or surrender to them, to whom shall the check be mailed?

It will be argued that any IED attacks on the West will be "blowback" for having invaded Iran or Afghanistan, or that the IED technology was proliferated as a consequence of the war. But this is a faulty line of reasoning because you can extend this argument to preclude any response on the grounds that terrorists might "learn" from any action taken against them and therefore it is best not to act against them at all...

"Here" includes America, a topic of interest to me. Since "IED" simply means "improvised explosive device," there's never been a reason why terrorists couldn't use them here. (IED's are also becoming more sophisticated, with armor piercing versions, but that's irrelevant to terror attacks on civilians.) And terrorists could surely cross our porous borders if they tried.

So why haven't they done so already? Three reasons, I'd guess. One is that mounting secret operations on foreign soil is difficult for any organization, and our home-grown terrorists don't seem to be a very impressive bunch so far. So al Qaeda or other groups would have to send in teams, and procure parts and explosives etc. All the steps are simple, but at each step somebody might get suspicious and tip off the FBI.

The second is that we are keeping them rather busy. We and our allies are hunting them round the globe. (And although decadent countries like France won't fight alongside us, they are perfectly happy to lock up terror suspects in nasty holes that make Gitmo look like a Sunday school.) And of course we were clever, and invaded Iraq, and that has presented al Qaeda with a dilemma that has absorbed most of its energy. Fudging up a "civil war" among people who really don't have their hearts in it is a bitch.

And the third is that, the last time they improvised an explosion on our soil, we punished them in a way they really hated. 9/11 was supposed to provoke either a weak cringing response, or an angry hasty lashing-out. Either would have been good for al Qaeda. Instead we cooly and methodically disassembled two Moslem countries, one of them in the Arab heartland, and put them back together with the beginnings of democracy and freedom and Globalization.

Our foolish politicians may live in an eternal present, where nothing exists but the sound-bites on tonight's TV news. They've forgotten, but you can bet that al Qaeda hasn't forgotten. And the terrorists are obviously aware of our politics, since they are butchering thousands of innocent people in order to dominate our news, and get Democrats elected. So they probably realize that terror attacks on our soil would almost certainly force even Democrats to fight back, or be tossed out of office.

The key geo-political fact of our times is that Europe's people and leaders are mostly nihilist, but the American population is only partly nihilist. Terror bombings in Europe (such as Madrid or the London Tube Bombs) will NOT rouse European nations to unity and vigorous action. Terror bombings in the US WILL rouse a large part of our people to demand that we fight back. Probably enough to tip the political balance and put the Republicans solidly in power. (Assuming we can come up with some politicians with guts.)

Key read: America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, by Mark Steyn. Oh, and there's another guy, who seems to be close to the heart of where I'd suggest that what you might call "anti-nihilsim" is really coming from...

Posted by John Weidner at May 19, 2007 7:30 AM
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